The kinky Roman roots of Valentine’s Day

I wasn’t intending to have a Valentine’s Day post, but I just stumbled across the following on the NPR website and thought that you might enjoy it.

festival2…From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love”…

And here I thought that key parties were unique to the 70’s.

This entry was posted in History, Other, sex and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

5 Comments

  1. Edward
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    If our town can have a Krampus festival at Christmas, why not celebrate Lupercalia on Valentine’s Day? I know of a few women around here who wouldn’t mind getting flogged by strips of bloody goat flesh.

  2. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Not gonna lie, Mark. I saw the movie The Ice Storm (great movie, btw) several years ago and learned what key parties were. I spent weeks in a funk that I wasn’t an adult in the 70s. I even posited once, on FB, why the hell my parents never had key parties which prompted my mother to pipe up and ask me what a key party was. :) At our huge anniversary party this past December, I was seriously going to meet people at the door of the Corner with an empty glass bowl and see what the reaction was, but I’m not sure how many people would have gotten it :)

  3. Stephen
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    We could have a non-sexual key party, where men and women just talk. That might be fun.

    I’m curious as to what the thinking was behind this idea that women could be beaten fertile. Was that based on some kind of observation? Did someone notice that women who were beaten regularly by their husbands had more children? Or did some man just say it so that he could hit women? As an academic, I find it fascinating.

  4. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Actually that *would* be kinda fun. Like sorority mixers back in the day (heaven and hell theme, marriage and divorce, the one where you would have to choose a shoe and then find its owner)…okay some of those ended up in hook ups but still.

    I’m the party planner…should I plan this? :)

  5. Posted February 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I always thought those 70’s swinging legends were total myths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Connect

BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative VG 3D